Continuing on my series of interesting people on the project site in Valapad, Kerala. 'Interesting' here may not have the same connotation as Steve Irwin or Mata Hari. But I'm the type to draw a silver line on the window while watching war-clouds outside without any linings (silver or otherwise) of their own.
Staying away from home has never been nicer. And large swathes of those niceties, on this current Kerala trip are thanks to Nanni (prounounced nun-ee). A unique list of all words spoken between her and our team is ‘nanni’, hence the name. It took some trial and a lot of error, to conclude that it was the Malayalam word for ‘Thank you’. Being in a completely new place, I was pretty much thankful for anything given... anything that fell in the list of eats or drinks. And Nanni was the torchbearer of them all. Sugary coffee for the lady and self in the morning hours at office, with its assortment of biscuits, to the collection of cashew nuts and syrupy tea in the second half, Nanni ensures our quota of calories is handled right. We face greater challenges in receiving our quota of data from the client. The replenishment model she has worked out for our eating binges, would rival any manufacturing firm’s. Any better and we might make her an offer to join the team.
It took us some effort to arrive at ‘nanni’ as the appropriate word. A quick reference on social networks for a translation, had me misreading the word as ‘ninne’. For the first few days, my thanking her with what I assumed was the right word, drew stares – uncertain ones initially, awkward ones the second week and towards the end of the ninne’s career as part of my lexicography, angry ones. Those 3 weeks had a phased approach of its own. Serendipity brought home the real meaning of the word – ‘ninne’ meant ‘you’. If I were a heart-warming coffee-cashew bearing person and am greeted with “you!!” twice a day for a job well done, I would have not been happy either. Nanni was no different. It took only one word from the client project manager to her, to take proper care of us, to get her up to speed. The final report shall have her being acknowledged too. Just below the client project manager but well above the chairman.
With a nanni in every project, I would take up any outstation project with little thought. Now, if only my manager would stop accusing me of having other intentions regarding the elderly nanni.